Cape Town is one of 12 cities where Airbnb has launched this feature, designed to help visitors meet locals and share their activities and insider knowledge. The other cities include Tokyo, Florence, Seoul, London and Paris. The only other one in Africa, at this stage, is Nairobi in Kenya.
At the launch event in Los Angeles, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the service would allow visitors to “immerse in a local community” and local hosts to “get paid to do something you already love”. The average price is $100 (around R1400) with higher-priced multi-day ones with “movie” trailers, allowing visitors to browse through the offerings and book using the app.
There are already experiences being offered in Cape Town. This next-level of tourism also raises the prospect for many locals to move beyond renting out a room or an apartment on the platform to charging for their time. This could range from taking a visitor along to a weekend food market, for a hike or for a kayak off Mouille Point, around art galleries or craft breweries or taking someone on a three-day mountain biking adventure. NGOs and non-profits can also host “social impact experiences” with 100% of the payment going to help support these organisations.
However, there are some regulatory pitfalls. In terms of the Tourism Act, anyone acting as tour guide – sharing information for money – must be registered with the Western Cape government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism. They need to be qualified by an accredited training provider and assessed. Registration costs R240 and guides are issued with an official badge and ID card. According to the Tourism Guide Registration office in St George’s Mall, there are between 3 000 and 4 000 active guides in the province. Airbnb says people wishing to host experiences should follow the registration rules applicable in each city, and also recommends taking out liability insurance to cover any mishaps. In a promotional video for an arts and culture experience, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has welcomed the concept. “Cape Town needs more of this,” she says.